Open post

Family traumatised by Councils neglect of memorial rose garden

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A slightly different blog this week we have been contacted by a lady who is struggling to communicate with Trafford Council about the rose garden where her daughters ashes rest, this is what she said:

In 1997 my daughter Jeannine died at the age of 30 after a very short illness so we were devastated to loose her and she was a vibrant fun loving girl and was engaged to be married.  We decided to cremate our daughter and Altrincham Crematorium gave us options of where to scatter her ashes and we decided that the Rose Garden which in 1997 was absolutely beautiful was the right place as Jeannine loved gardens. 

So we leased a Standard Rose for 5 years  at the cost of £75.00 with the option to take another 5 years and so on and purchased a plaque with her name on it and all my family and the local vicar went to the Rose Garden and a Gardener dug a large hole and put her ashes in and planted the standard rose on top of the ashes.   It was a sad day but we had a memorial to my beautiful daughter and somewhere for me to visit regularly.  And I go every 2 to 3 weeks because this rose tree is the only tangible thing I have got.  But in around 2015 the Council subcontracted out the maintenance to Amey LG and the whole of the crematorium has deteriorated and in the Rose Garden they never weeded it or hoed or fed the roses and they are in a poor condition and I constantly complained in the office but they said they were short of funds and what we pay wasn’t enough and I answered with –  then charge more. 

On one of my many visits to the office complaining (and I add at this point that my husband and I have been weeding the beds every time we go and it’s not hard work) I was handed a letter saying that no Leases will be renewed after their renewal dates and they are going to take out the roses and redesign the whole area.   I was devastated at this news because Jeannine’s ashes are underneath her Rose and if they take it out they will disturb consecrated ground.

I was so mad and upset I got a local Councillor to set up a meeting at the Crematorium and it was ultimately decided that Jeannines Rose and Plaque would remain in situ until the last Lease expires which is 2022. But of course by then the Garden will be derelict and too late to restore the Rose Garden which could be easily saved now and soil fed etc etc.  They constantly tell me that the soil is poor but if you don’t feed it, it will be, but these people are not gardeners and I feel that don’t care in the slightest about our feelings and are completely insensitive. But the entrance to the Crematorium is well maintained and always beautiful flowers and it has to be the same soil as the Rose Garden directly behind but hidden by a huge hedge so no visitors can see how neglected it is. 

I panicked and wrote to the Vicar at the local church and asked him if the ground where my daughters ashes are is sacred and if they removed them would it come under the heading of exhumation, and he replied immediately and told me that there are legal parameters around burial sites and mortal remains which will ensure the safety of my daughter’s ashes, also in law ashes are considered to be the same as a body therefore cannot disturb the resting place as the ashes can’t be divided as its a body.  So I felt relieved that the Council couldn’t disturb the ground underneath the Rose, but I’ve just received a letter from the Chief Executive of Trafford Council and she informs me that the Vicar is correct when mortal remains are interred within a grave space, but this legislation does not apply to the laying to rest of cremated remains, either within a garden of remembrance or other public area.

So I am again frightened that they can remove the standard rose thus disturbing my daughters ashes even though it is in the Memorial Rose Garden provided by the Council and I know there are a lot of people in the same situation as myself.  So if anybody knows the law regarding ashes placed under a rose or tree  in the grounds of a crematorium  please let me know as I need as much support as I can get to help me sort this out.   

I have requested on many occasions to have accounts showing where the Council has spent all our Lease money and every 5 years I have paid and the last amount was £150 in March 2013 and has now expired but I’m told that the Lease money for the Rose is not itemised down to the level of the Rose Garden but income generated from memorials is used to support the overall keep of the grounds maintenance etc. etc. but nothing has been done in the Rose Garden for 3 years.    

I would love to hear from Trafford to share their side of the story

I will try to keep my waffly explainintion brief: I think there is two things going on one is legal which is possibly around the definition of interment – were the ashes scattered or interred. The second which is a more moral issue, I would strongly suspect that when Mrs Vickes interred/scattered her daughter’s ashes at the garden of remembrance she expected to be able to visit the her daughters resting place site and the rose bush in perpetuity, the council appear not see it like that.

This is a sad story, I hope this post will help her voice in finding some resolution.

Open post
digging up ashes

Council mix-up: an exhumation because an ashes burial plot was sold to two people!

Jennifer Phillips bought a plot in Welton Road Cemetery, Daventry, Northamptonshire back in 1987 so that when the time came she and her husband could be buried next to her parents.

However, on a visit her parents grave she noticed a small wooden cross on the plot that she owned. It transpires that the council, through bad records management, had sold the plot again to a Mrs Ducker do she could bury her mother there.

The whole sorry mess had to be sorted out by Mr David Pittaway QC, chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough. He ruled that the remains of Mrs Sandra Cleaver (Mrs Ducker mother) needed to be exhumed and buried elsewhere. He decided it would be detrimental for Mrs Phillips to continue to visit her mother’s grave and see the grave where she was meant to be buried with someone else in it. And said that if the exhumation did not take place the two families could end up visiting their relatives at the same time, which could cause “unnecessary stress and distress”.

He went onto say “Mrs Phillips refers in her witness statement to this having occurred on two occasions already, on one of which Mrs Ducker’s family held themselves back whilst the other family was at the grave,” he said.

He added: “If I were to permit Mrs Cleaver’s cremated remains to remain and, in due course a memorial was erected, there would be a permanent reminder to Mrs Phillips every time she visited her parents’ grave that she would have been buried in plot A239 but for the Council’s mistake.

“Moreover, she would go to her grave in the knowledge that her long expressed wish to be buried behind her parents’ grave had been frustrated.”

He made a point that “several errors surrounding the Council’s attempts to remedy the situation, which could, with more care, have been avoided.

“For example, amongst others, the original letter to Mrs Ducker specified the wrong plot number and the alternative plot offered was not available.”.

Now that is bad enough, but what happened was that both families thought that they needed to significant legal representation to put their case across. The council had said it would pay up £1500 to cover the costs of any written submission, but the both ended up being represented in court at the hearing by QCs causing a significant escalation in costs. Which the council thought was unnecessary, and therefore they do not wish to liable for this increase in costs.

It would appear that Mr Pittaway was leaning towards the families he said the council needed to “show cause as to why they should not pay the other parties’ costs”. Which the council have since submitted. A spokesman for Daventry District Council said “We are very sorry for the distress our mistake has caused and we have offered our most sincere apologies to both of the families involved.

“It is deeply regrettable that a recording error made by the Council in the mid-1980s has led to two families having conflicting rights over one grave, and we will fully comply with the consistory court’s judgement.

“In recognition of our error, the Council offered to fund the legal costs of both families up to £1,500, which would have been sufficient for a court decision based on written representations.

“With a full hearing sought, we understand both families have incurred higher legal costs, and we await the decision of the court as to how those additional costs should be met.”

Oh my, what a mess, poor families. The question is should the families pay the extra money? A can see the councils point of view: it could have been settled by written submissions so why should they be liable if the families choose to spend a greater amount, surely that it up to them. However, I find myself leaning the other way. The council were wholly responsible for this and the significant upset this has caused. It is not unsurprising that the family would want to all within their power to argue the best possible case and yes this was their choice to do so, but they did not create the mess in the first place. And whilst it should not be an overriding factor of three parties the council has the resources to sort this out. Anyway, perhaps that is just me that thinks like that.


Open post
exhumation church of england

Church of England rules on Exhumation of Ashes: what are Exceptional Circumstances

The Church of England considers the burial of ashes final. To get ashes removed from consecrated land is difficult if not impossible, you will need to demonstrate exceptional circumstances and navigate the very formal language used by the church.

Set out below is what you need to know.

You would need to get permission (known as a Faculty) from the Chancellor of the Diocese (who is the legal part of the church), they would look at a number of factors in making a decision. Basically there needs to be exceptional circumstances.

What might be considered exceptional:

  • A mistake – for example if someone was buried in the wrong plot or if the person was buried on consecrated ground but was not of the christian faith (such as a buddhist), it is not enough to say they were lapsed.
  • Family Grave – this could be grounds for exhumation if there was a family plot in existence and it was the intention that the family should all be there.

What would not be considered exceptional i.e. if something could have been reasonably foreseen:

  • Change of mind, if you have had a change of heart and want them elsewhere.
  • Deteriorating health for example if a surviving spouse wishes to move to be with relatives and wishes to take the ashes with them.

Other factors:

  • Setting a precedent. The court would be very warery about setting a precedent that undermines the general presumption against exhumation.
  • Time, generally speaking the longer the ashes have been buried the more difficult there are to have exhumed.
  • Support, you would need the agreement of close relatives. However support from the wider community including friends or members of the clergy would normally be disregarded.

So if you think you have grounds for exhumation you will need get a special form of Faculty Petition which used for an application for exhumation, these are obtained from Diocesan Registrar. A Diocesan Registrar is held at the Diocesan office (the diocese is name for an area of land under the jurisdiction of the local bishop – the rector or cemetery manager should be point you in the right direction or you can have a look at this map of the different diocese in England , or go to Diocesan Registry)

More resources:

  • Here is a list of case studies and examples of what constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ (and what does not) – exhumation.
  • The law relating  to exhumation is set out in the leading case of (this note has been put together by the diocese of Norwich) Blagdon Cemetery [2002] Court of Arches,

Church of England: Exhumation of Ashes

How helpful is this page? 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Open post

Cemetery error deemed exceptional in exhumation case

At Scattering Ashes we report on as many exhumation cases as we hear about so we can pass the learning onto you.

Without wishing to repeat myself, getting permission for exhumation of ashes from consecrated ground is difficult: it must be exceptional circumstances – here is our main page on exhumation of the subject, here are the other examples of cases we have found.

Here is a case from Kent (Greatness Parr Cemetery). The ashes of Mr Barder were interred at the cemetery,with the intention of his wife being buried with him when the time came. Unfortunately, Mr Barbers ashes were only buried two feet down preventing Mrs Barbers ashes being placed on top (under the law Mr Barbers could not be removed so the plot could be dug deeper as this would be disturbing the ashes).

So as a solution the family bought a plot, placed Mrs Barbers ashes in there and applied to have Mr Barber’s ashes transferred to the new plot.

The family were able show the court a photograph of the memorial stone put over Mr Barber’s remains that had a space had been left for his wife’s name to be added.

They won the case. John Gallagher, Chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester, in his role as a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court has over-ridden the normal rules and held that the circumstances in this case are exceptional.

He said: “The Court can only depart from the principle of permanence if the petitioners can establish special circumstances to allow an exception to that principle.”

He went on to say that the mistake was the result of the cemetery not informing Mrs Barber at the time that they had buried the ashes at a depth that would not allow her ashes to be interred above.

He concluded: “In these very particular circumstances I am satisfied that this is a case where I can take an exceptional course, and authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains of the late Mr Barber so that they may be reinterred in the grave plot where the mortal remains of his more recently deceased wife have been interred.”


Open post
exhumation ashes

Family ashes plots a way to persuade the church to allow exhumation?

I have written on the subject of exhumation of ashes many times because each case is slightly different and it interesting to see the church’s stance. As usually the salient points from the judge get reported.

In case you are not aware, if ashes are buried on consecrated land the decision whether to allow exhumation rests with the Church’s Consistory Court and they historically have taken a firm line that once buried then that is final, unless there are exceptional circumstance, and what constitutes exceptional circumstances is the crux of the issue.

This case an elderly Grantham couple won consent to have their son exhumed from his grave.  The couple where becoming frail and unable to visit the grave, but ordinarily this would not be enough to grant an exhumation order as this situation could have been ‘reasonably foreseen’.

Mark Bishop, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, in his role as a judge of the Church’s Consistory Court has given consent for the ashes of their son to be removed from Castle Bytham Cemetery and re-buried in a plot at Grantham Crematorium.

In his ruling Chancellor Bishop said : “The presumption is that burial of human remains in consecrated ground is permanent.”

He went on to say : “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Jason was laid to rest in 2002 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”

Concluding: “I am persuaded that this exhumation can be permitted on the exceptional grounds that Mr and Mrs Beecroft wish to have a family grave at Grantham Crematorium. This is one of the exceptions to the principle that Christian burial is permanent.”

I never knew this: Church rules allow for exhumation if one of the reasons for which it is sought is the creation of a family grave.

This is very significant and present a real opportunity to families want to exhume due to reasons of location.



Open post
cremation ashes exhume

Exhumation granted due to proximity to footpath

As you may have seen from other posts I try and highlight as many examples of formal exhumation for Church of England cemeteries as possible so I can give you an idea of what constitutes exceptional circumstances as possible. If you are not aware exceptional circumstances are the criteria the Church of England puts in place if you wish to exhume ashes.

This particular case is interesting, as it the first one I have come across that related to proximately to a footpath.

The ashes of Alan Llewellin were mistakenly buried alongside a public footpath in Holy Cross church yard in the north Wiltshire village of Sherston. There were concerns raised that if the planned memorial stone for Mr Llewellin was installed there was a potential hazard and that the public could damage it whilst walking over it.

Justin Gau, chancellor of the Diocese of Bristol and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, accepted the application and has granted permission for the ashes to be moved to another part of the church yard.

Chancellor Gau said he considered the circumstances in this case were sufficiently exceptional to allow him to side-step the normal procedure.

He said that although Christian doctrine firmly established that a Christian burial was meant to be permanent, there were exceptional circumstances which could pave the way for the Consistory Court to grant permission for exhumation.

He continued: “I accept in the highly unusual circumstances of this case that a genuine mistake was made in the siting of the original space.

“It was a mistake made with the best intentions and no one is at fault here. I am prepared to grant this faculty for the exhumation and re-interment of Mr Llewellin’s ashes.”

So well done to Me Llewellin’s daughter, Jayne Henderson who brought the application. This is another to add to our list.

Original story


Open post
manchester buddist temple

Exhumation granted to family of Chinese Buddhist

Good news for the family of Mr Quoc Tru Tran. They have been given permission to remove his body from Manchester’s Southern cemetery in Chorlton, have it cremated, so that they can have them reinterred next to his wife in the Buddhist temple in Old Trafford.

The Church of England court that has jurisdiction over burial on consecrated ground only gives the permission in exceptional circumstances. And Geoffrey Tattersall QC, Chancellor of the diocese of Manchester, clearly thought that was the case here.

Mr Tran a practicing Buddhist, died suddenly from cancer in August 1994 and was then buried at Southern Cemetery in Chorlton . His wife died February 2016 and she was interred at Buddhist temple of Manchester Fo Guang Shan in Old Trafford. Shortly after his son, Tony Van Hon Tran, sort permission so his father could rest alongside his mother.

In his judgement, he ruled that at the time of Mr Tran’s death, there was no Chinese burial ground in Manchester and the ‘only option’ was to bury him near to some Chinese graves.

The family did not realise that the interment was in the Church of England consecrated section of the cemetery.

The judgement highlighted ‘language barriers’ which affected issues surrounding the death and said the family were new immigrants with ‘little understanding’ of UK culture or practices.

The ruling also ties in with Mr Tran’s wife’s last wishes.

Mr Tattersall QC, who also sits as a court judge, said Mr Tran was buried at the cemetery ‘because he died suddenly and his relatives did not understand the customs and practices of the Church of England, or that he was buried in the Church of England consecrated part of Southern Cemetery.’

Saying it would be ‘extraordinarily harsh’ to apply Christian theology to an issues involving Buddhism, he added that he was ‘wholly satisfied’ that it was an exceptional case and one where he should grant permission ‘on the basis of mistake’.

To my mind the judge was quite right, these where clearly exceptional circumstances and they are certainly unlikely they crop up elsewhere…!

Original Story:

Open post
exhume ashes oxford

A change of mind is not a good enough reason

Seeking to exhume a loved one’s ashes is difficult when they are buried on Church land, you will need to apply to the Consistory Court of the diocese and demonstrate: exceptional circumstance.

On the blog we like to report any case we come across so that you can get a better pictures as to what the Court needs to grant an application.

Mrs Tollis submitted a petition to have her husbands remains exhumed from a churchyard in Oxfordshire. Mrs Tollis, a practising Roman Catholic, was left to determine her husband’s resting place: who passed away in 2013. He did not express an opinion and was not religious. So with the approval of the family she chose to inter in the local churchyard – St Peter’s, Wootton, Boars Hill in Oxford.

However, Mrs Tollis said she “came to realise quite quickly that [she] had made a serious error of judgement”, on deeper reflection she considered Antibes, in France, would be a more appropriate as this is where he had spent a greater part of his life and felt very attached too.

Mr Tollis thought that she had superimposed her own religious belief over the top of her husband’s religious indifference. She said she had an “acute and distressing feeling of incompletion, and a very real need to have a sadly mistaken decision put right”.

Unfortunately, although there was sympathy for Mrs Tollis’ plight (whose application was supported by the Priest and family) the court felt they had to follow precedent and rejected the application. The Chancellor of Oxford, the Revd Alexander McGregor, said that he was legally bound to follow the principles of law governing exhumation issued by the Court of Arches in the Blagdon Cemetery case ([2002] Fam 299).

The court reported that although Mrs Tollis found herself in a stressful situation, and had serious concerns about the choice she made in 2014, her state of mind did not approach the “serious psychiatric or psychological problems”, where there was medical evidence demonstrating a link with the location of the grave.

And, although Mr Tollis had had strong connections with Antibes, he had not expressed any particular wishes about the place where he should be buried. It was not, therefore, a case where the wishes of a deceased had not been complied with, and where a family were trying to put matters right, the Chancellor said.

Mr Tollis was not a practising Christian, and, therefore, St Peter’s churchyard may not have had any particular significance for him; but there was no evidence that he would have objected to being buried there, and Mrs Tollis’s decision to inter his remains there could not be criticised.

The Chancellor said that this case could not be distinguished from what the Court of Arches categorised as a change of mind on the part of those responsible for the interment.

So a change of mind does not count, these sad case will continue to crop up, the Church is unlikely to change precedent on this for many years if at all. Our advise is: take your time before you decide – there is no rush.

Original story:


Open post
ashes exhumation lincolnshire

Is the Church of England softening its stance on exhumation of ashes?

We feedback any reports we come across in the press on exhumation of ashes, we do this so you can start to understand the stance and precedents set by the Church of England.  We hope to help you in deciding whether your case may be considered worthy enough to meet the CoE’s stance of ‘exceptional circumstance’. Recently a lady wanted the ashes moving as she was no longer able to access her husband’s grave due to infirmity and in another where a lady was moving closer to her children and wanted to have her husband ashes reburied closer to her new abode. Both cases we rejected. The position put for by the Chancellor of the Diocese as judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court,  (the person responsible for deciding) stated that in both cases these circumstances could have been reasonably foreseen.

However a recent case involving a 92 year old widow in Lincolnshire there appears, from the outside at least, to be slightly milder in its approach taken.

Italian-born Mrs Glover sought permission to exhume the ashes of her late husband who died in 1990, so that they could be taken to the family mausoleum at Bisceglie, Puglia, in the southern Italy. This is where she intends her ashes to be placed.

The argument for her request was centred around the fact that when she dies there will be no-one left in England left to care for the grave yet in Italy the family will continue to tend the mausoleum there.

The Chancellor, slightly ironically called Mr Bishop, said: “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Mr Glover was laid to rest in 1991 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”

He went on to say: “I am satisfied that this is one of those exceptional cases where I can authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains so that they may be reinterred in the family grave in Italy.

“I accept that Mrs Glover is concerned about what will happen to her husband’s plot, and her own, after she has passed away. I am sure that that Mr and Mrs Glover’s graves would be properly cared for in those circumstances by the [council] ensuring that the churchyard was tended, but I recognise the distress she feels about no family member being around to care for their plots and visit the graves.”

He added: “I wish Mrs Glover well.” A nice touch I thought.

I am pleased for Mrs Glover, although I am surprised as one might have expected the ‘reasonably foreseen’ argument trotted out. And whilst we should not see graves as the soil based equivalent of a gym locker, I think it is good to see the Church relaxing their stance in this instance. Personally I think the church foremost principle for compassion is right to take precedent here – well done Mr Bishop and the CofE.

Original article

Open post
MoJ exhumation ashes

The Ministry of Justice response to our question on exhumation of ashes

This was our enquiry:


Since the recent interest in exhumation articles in various national papers, I am trying to clarify a couple of things

The MoJ gets around 25 applications per week for exhumation what is the percentage spilt (roughly) between whole body / standard burial and burial of cremated remains?

As I understand it, the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if from consecrated ground give the authority. So is it the churches decision on consecrated even if they don’t own it eg a council cemetery? And the Justice Secretary on non consecrated (do they apply the same test as the church).

Many thanks



This was their response:


Dear Mr Martin,

Thank you for your emails of 4 August and 4 September, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ): “The MoJ gets around 25 applications per week for exhumation what is the percentage spilt (roughly) between whole body / standard burial and burial of cremated remains?

As I understand it, the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if from consecrated ground give the authority. So is it the churches decision on consecrated even if they don’t own it eg a council cemetery? And the Justice Secretary on non consecrated (do they apply the same test as the church).” The first part of your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I can confirm that the department holds the information that you have asked for and I am pleased to provide this to you.  The Secretary of State for Justice grants licences for exhumation of buried human remains under section 25 of the Burial Act 1857 (as amended).  In 2013, 14% of all such licences were for non-cremated remains.  Again in 2014, 14% of all such licences were for non-cremated remains. You can find more information about the FOIA by reading the full text (available at

Responses are anonymised and published on our on-line disclosure log which can be found on the MoJ website:

I am answering the second part of your request outside of the FOIA, on a discretionary basis. Section 25 of the Burial Act 1857 (as amended) requires exhumation to be authorised by either the Secretary of State or the Church of England, depending on the location of the remains. Exhumation from land which is subject to the Church of England’s jurisdiction needs the Church’s authorisation (the granting of a faculty or the approval of a proposal under the Care of Cathedrals Measure 2011). This includes exhumation from any section of a local authority cemetery which has been consecrated by the Church of England. Exhumation from land which is not subject to the Church of England’s jurisdiction needs a licence from the Secretary of State. Each application for a licence is considered on its own merits. We are unable to answer on the Church of England’s requirements for granting a faculty. I hope this information is helpful. Yours sincerely,


So the MoJ score way better than the MoD, on the down side it took asking the question three times and I needed to resort to a FOI. However the answer that came back was pretty good and offered more information than was legally necessary. So they get a Scattering score of 6.5

MoJ exhumation ashes

Open post
coe exhumation

Exhumation is getting the Church hot under the (dog) collar

It seems the national paper picked up on the case of Mrs Gooch, who wanted her mums cremated remains moved as she could not access the grave as she was wheelchair bound. The church refused as it was not exceptional circumstances.

The Sunday Express, the Guardian and the Telegraph all picked up on this growing trend.

Under the Burial Act 1857, someone’s remains can only be exhumed on the authority of the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if it is from consecrated ground.

In order to do this, one must to fill out a 12-page Ministry of Justice application form that includes the written agreement of whoever is in charge of the “cemetery, churchyard or crematorium where the remains are to be reburied or cremated”.  These applications are then normally decided within twenty days.

The Ministry of Justice receives around twenty-five of these applications per week to exhume buried human remains.

The church does not like this at all, a spokesman from for the clergy said: “The permanent burial of the physical body, or the burial of cremated remains, should be seen as a symbol of our entrusting the person to God for resurrection.

“This commending, entrusting, resting in peace does not sit easily with ‘portable remains’, which suggests the opposite, a holding onto the “symbol” of a human life rather than a giving back to God.

The Church suggested that the relocation of remains for reasons of convenience has become “almost a fashion”. ARRRGGGGHHH I do wish the church would not speak like that, people will have thought long and hard about this is, there is significant effort involved here and it is certainly traumatic, to reduce it to a flippant statement like that is patronising and misses the point of why they are trying to do this: It is because they loved that person so much that that being separated from their last resting place is distressing. The appellant is probably not up on the finer points of scripture and may well be Christian but in a different sense to the learned clergy, which is no less strongly felt. They may consider the words spoken as a metaphor and not so final.

The article went on to report that the Ecclesiastical Judges Association, comprised of diocesan chancellors who determine exhumation requests, said there was an increasing belief that “exhumation on demand” was acceptable as burial had lost its “religious and moral significance”. I can understand the point about religious significance, but to tack on moral at the end is unnecessary, it implies that theirs is the moral ‘right’ which is nonsense. I love genuinely the Church of England, but they do make cross with this sorted conceited, high-handed drivel. It is fine to set your precedent and stick to it and yes ignorance is no defence, but please do not question peoples morals in decision making process, if anything is morally wrong it is that!

Phew…right, I have calmed down now. It would appear Local authority seem to take a more relaxed view. A spokesperson for Brompton cemetery in west London said: “If a family wants to exhume the remains of a relative then obviously we try to help as much as possible.” Other council-run services confirmed this approach. Their duty is to who owns the plot. Which I personally think is more laudable, but then I am not ordained – so what would I know about morals.


Open post
exhumation pensioner Norfolk church yard

Pensioner failed to get exhumation order on the grounds of access

A pensioner from Norfolk has failed in her attempt to get the ashes of her mother exhumed. She had partitioned the Church of England’s Consistory Court but to no avail.

Mrs Queenie Ivy Gooch wanted the ashes of her mother moved from the Churchyard in Gunton to the nearby Kirkley Cemtery so that she could pay her respects. She is unable to visit as she is wheel-chair bound. However the court said no.

This may seem like a tough ruling and one has every sympathy for Mrs Gooch. The law around exhumation is strict and a last resting place must be exactly that unless there are exceptional circumstances. And the court deemed that in this case there wasn’t.

And the fact that vicar of St Peter’s had not objected was not enough.

In giving the judgement Chancellor Arlow said : “It is clear that the inability to access her mother’s grave causes Mrs Gooch real distress and it is for this reason that she wishes to exhume her mother’s remains and reinter them in Kirkley Cemetery.

“I know that this will cause real upset to Mrs Gooch and have great sympathy for her but I am unable to find a proper justification for this exhumation.

She said that if the advancing of years and its consequent limitations of mobility were to be sufficient reason for an exhumation then this could lead to a flood of similar applications and unacceptable inroads into the principle that once a person’s remains have been buried the burial is meant to be permanent.

Mrs Gooch had hoped to have her ashes buried alongside her husband and her mother to be reinterred next to her.

So it is down to principle and whilst I am not a fan of “It will open the flood gates…. What will happen next” I can see that the court is in a very difficult position. And the hurt caused to an individual must be balanced against wider precedents.

It is just very sad for the lady involved.


Open post
ashes west sussex exhumation

A lady bell ringer fails in her attempt to move her parents ashes closer

ashes west sussex exhumation

A lady bell-ringer from Northchapel a village in West Sussex,  who wished to exhume and relocate her parents ashes to bring them closer, has had her appeal been rejected.

The chancellor of the diocese of Chichester and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, refused Mrs Lacey’s request to move her parents ashes from a cemetery in Battle and so make it more convenient for her to visit.

She wrote: “For me to have them [my parents’ ashes] near would mean that I had a little bit of my brother, father and mother. I think I had never been able to really grieve for them.”

However the judge said: “I can find nothing pointing to a special or exceptional circumstance. Her application is founded on the sincere wish to have the remains of those she loves and still grieves closer to where she lives.”

He added: “Exhumation for sentiment or convenience or to hang on to the remains of life is a denial of the Christian intention of burial.

“Mrs Lacey must therefore bear her grief with fortitude, knowing her parents’ remains are to lie together undisturbed where they were committed to God’s keeping.”

As we have written on a few occasions – exceptional circumstances are required to depart from the rule that, the last resting place is the last resting place .

Importantly here it has been made clear that Mrs Lacy has to pay the courts as well as her own.

What I find sad is that no one had advised Mrs Lacy this was bad course of action, not only causing her more anxiety, but a significant expense too! I suppose it could have been that Mrs Lacy was prepared to try anything to fulfill her wish, but still it would appear a forgone conclusion.

Open post
ashes exhumation C of E

Exhumation of ashes order not granted: plea not considered to be exceptional

ashes exhumation C of E© Copyright Oast House Archive

Previously we have reported on success stories where a family has managed to secure the approval for exhumation of ashes via the Church of England’s Consistory Court. We had pointed out exhumation orders on church consecrated land were rare. Here is a story from the news website KentOnline about a lady who wished to reunite her father’s ashes putting them in her mother’s grave. The judge refused to give permission as the circumstances were not deemed to be exceptional.

The petition was brought by Mrs Mills the daughter of Mr Morphett who passed away in 2000 aged 82. It was Mrs Mills’ mother wish, who died last December, that they should be together. Whilst the remains of both parents were in St Margaret’s church Horsmonden, they we not on the same plot.  As this was contrary to Mrs Mills mother’s wishes the family sought to move the ashes of their father so they could reside next to their mother.

Ms Mills also raised concerns about the state of the churchyard which appeared to be quite neglected.

poorly kept churchyard© KentOnline

In written submissions, she wrote: “My mother wished to be buried and my dad was cremated in 2000. I desire that they should be together, so that we can pay tributes together in one place.”

Sadly for the family the Chancellor ruled that Mr Morphett’s remains must stay where they are.

He said: “The norm is permanence in relation to Christian burial, and the norm can only be departed from if there are exceptional circumstances made out so as to justify departure from it. The burden of proof is on the petitioner to establish, on the balance of probabilities, exceptional circumstances.”

Ruling that Mrs Mills had failed to do so, he continued: “Distress or upset about the location of the interment of Mr Morphett’s cremated remains is not enough. All concerned knew at the time he was interred and where he was being interred. What thought Mrs Morphett may have given to her own burial and place of rest is unclear.

“Distress or upset about the area surrounding Mr Morphett’s cremated remains is not enough. Equally a desire that one’s parents ‘be together’, though understandable, is not enough.”

He said that when a “mistake” was made that could be regarded as a reason to grant a request for exhumation. But in this case he said that in this case, if there was any mistake, it related to a lack of thought as to what would happen in the future. 

And he added: “That is not enough.”

He continued: “I have little doubt that Mrs Mills and the family will be disappointed by my decision. I hope that in the light of this Judgment greater efforts will be made, where appropriate, to maintain the Churchyard, and I further hope that all concerned will recognise that Mr and Mrs Morphett’s remains are in reality, in close proximity, but that, more importantly, they have both been entrusted to God for resurrection.”

This is indeed sad, although as the judge points out not extraordinary. I suspect what may have happened is that whilst both parents wished to be buried on consecrated ground the father wanted to be cremated and the mother buried. When the father died they bought a small plot suitable for ashes perhaps not considering what would happen when the mother died. As the judge points out “All concerned knew at the time he was interred and where he was being interred. What thought Mrs Morphett may have given to her own burial and place of rest is unclear.”.  I am thinking when the family realised the consequences of this it was really too late. You can’t help but feel sorry for the family, decisions like choosing a grave can be made without the full facts or consideration of the future, in a time of significant distress. One would have hoped a polite word from a concerned party would have been appropriate, but who knows.

One last point that the judge ends on, which is perhaps in part the reason for the principal of exceptional circumstances is that if you are religious then one can draw solace from the fact you can entrust to God the resurrection of the soul, so the location of the body is of less relevance, again please feel free to contradict…

Original story:

Open post
creamtion ashes exhumed

Exhumation of ashes – permission granted

creamtion ashes exhumed

Exhumation of ashes – permission granted

Exhumation of ashes is a tricky subject; it is rare that it is granted. Here we have a story with a positive ending, the children of a man whose cremated remains were buried in Bourne Abbey churchyard in Lincolnshire have been granted permission by Church of England’s Consistory Court to have them exhumed and taken to the family plot to be interred with his wife in Harlow, Essex.

After retiring, Mr and Mrs Peglar moved to Bourne Abbey in 2007, but Mr Peglar soon became ill and passed away in 2008. Mrs Peglar fell ill two years later and she passed away in 2011, but her ashes were interred in a family plot in Parndon Wood Cemetery, Essex.

So the children petitioned the Court to have the ashes moved to their mothers plot. And Mark Bishop, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln and a judge granted a “faculty” – Consistory Court permission

This article and judgement are quite revealing, as the normal legal rule that Christian burial in consecrated ground should be final and the remains should not be moved. So here we have some of the courts thinking on the matter, which is quite revealing.

The family argued that their parents association with Bourne Abbey had been temporary, that the family is based in Essex where their parent had spent the vast majority of their lives and their mother and father should be allowed to rest together.

This is what the judge said:

“In my judgment, this application can be granted on the basis that Mr Peglar’s ashes be placed in a family plot together with Mrs Peglar’s ashes.”

“The condition of this exhumation is that they are being placed together in one place. It is because this is an application for a family grave that it is granted.”

He said Mr and Mrs Peglar’s links with Bourne had been “shortlived”, that plainly the whole focus of the family was in the Harlow area, that the immediate family all live nearby and that he understood that the family would want to be able to visit their parents’ graves together.

However, he added: “If the application had been simply on the basis that it was inconvenient for the family to visit Bourne, or distressing because of the associations, this would not be sufficient to disturb the grave where the presumption in Christian burial is permanence.”

So if you are secular do these rules apply? What happens if you are non-religious and you happen to be buried on consecrated ground?


Open post
hull cremation ashes burial

Mortuary mix up means more than just exhumation.

hull cremation ashes burial

A very sad story from Hull, Christopher Addler died in police custody and was buried in 2000, after this his niece died and her wishes were to have her ashes scattered on her uncle’s grave. It turns out that the body buried is likely to be that of a lady named Grace Kamara. This all appears be the result of a mortuary mix up.

The body has been exhumed for testing and the intension after a positive ID it will be returned to the plot in which it has been resting for the past 11 years.

The brother of Christopher Alder was due to attend the exhumation at Northern Cemetery, Hull. He wished to oversee the delicate operation to remove the top turf containing Laura’s ashes, which will then be placed on Christopher’s new plot.

He said: “This is something that just has to be done.

“I want to be there to see the top turf removed, which will then be placed on Christopher’s grave. It will be difficult to watch.

“We promised before she died that we would scatter her ashes on her uncle’s grave.

“For ten years that promise has not been fulfilled. How much more difficult can anything be?”

After the tests have been carried out and, if they confirm the body is that of Grace, her family and friends would like her to be reburied back in the plot she has been in for the past 11 years. This is not a usual request, so the licence governing the exhumation is likely to need amending.

The process means the cemtary will need to be sectioned off for a whole night and the article said the removal of the soil from the grave will commence at midnight.

Poor family first to lose a brother is such circumstances, then to lose your daughter, to find that the brother has not been laid to rest and you scattered your daughter’s ashes over a stranger’s grave. As he said: How much more difficult can anything be?

Two questions: Why do they have to start the exhumation at midnight, why not half past eleven? It is not a Victorian melodrama for goodness sake, are they intending on having an organist in the background hammering Bach’s Toccata and Fugue! Secondly where did Grace Kamara’s friends and family think she was until now? Have they been trying to track her down? Surely the mortuary must have known where she should have been. It can’t be as it seems, with these clippings you don’t get whole story…


Open post
cremation ashes exhumation

Cremation ashes exhumed in rare judgement

cremation ashes exhumation

If you choose to bury funeral ashes that is final, you can’t move them anywhere else, apart from is you are granted an exhumation order from the Department of Justice. Technically this is true even if you decide to bury the ashes in your own garden, you will still need an order to remove them.

Here is a case of a lady from Bromsgrove in the Midlands, whose husband had been paralysed and his last wish was to have his ashes scattered. However, his wife choose to have them interred – “When he died, I was so consumed with grief and loneliness that I made the decision to have his remains interred, so I would have somewhere to visit him and feel close to him”.

Then she felt guilty because she had gone against his last wishes – he felt that scattering his ashes was a way of setting himself free from his affliction he had suffered in his last years. She then had to go through the process of applying for an exhumation.

The good news is the Judge granted the exhumation order. In granting permission, the Judge said: “The normal rule is that burial in consecrated land is permanent, and that a faculty will only exceptionally be granted for exhumation.

“I have come to the conclusion that Mrs Bartram’s explicit statement that she was not made aware that the cemetery was consecrated, coupled with her strong feeling, entirely understandable, that she had done the wrong thing in having her husband’s ashes buried, together constitute a set of circumstances such that this case should be treated as an exception.”

This story poses a number of very interesting points. Firstly the fact that people don’t often realise how difficult it is to remove ashes once buried. Secondly Mrs Bartram was torn between wanting a focal point to grieve and the wishes of her dead husband which was to be ‘set free’.

I can imagine getting the exhumation order was very traumatic. I just hope now she has found some peace through the process.

Exhumation as yet has not been covered on the website, I intend to resolve this shortly…

Scroll to top